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The origins of RAM (Die-Sinker) EDM Machines

By  SST Consumables

February 29, 2024


What are the Origins of Sinker EDM Machines?

As a machine operator, shop manager, or owner you've likely encountered Sinker EDM machines in your line of work. Also known as Electrical Discharge Machining machines, these devices have been a critical part of industry for many decades. First developed in the 1940s, Sinker EDM machines were created to craft intricate shapes in hardened materials. Today, they're essential tools in industries like automotive, aerospace, and medical.

Sinker EDM machines work by using electrical discharges to remove material from a workpiece. The process involves an electrode (typically made out of graphite, copper, or copper tungsten) and an electrically conductive workpiece both of which are submersed in a dielectric oil.  The Sinker EDM machine generates controlled sparks, eroding the material. Over the years, Sinker EDM technology has advanced significantly, leading to improved accuracy, faster machining speeds, and enhanced automation capabilities. These machines are now capable of producing complex shapes with high precision, making them a staple in modern manufacturing.

History of Sinker EDM Machines

Sinker Electrical Discharge Machining (EDM) machines, also known as Die-Sinking EDM machines, have a long and rich history that has revolutionized the manufacturing industry. They've enabled precise and intricate machining operations that would have been impossible in the past.

The roots of Sinker EDM technology go back to the 1940s when Russian scientists B. R. and N. I. Lazarenko developed the technology. They found that they could erode metal to create complex shapes and contours using electrical discharges.

Over time, the technology evolved. In the 1950s, Japanese scientist Dr. H. Kiyomatsu introduced the use of dielectric fluids, like oil, to improve the machining process. This innovation reduced electrode wear and enhanced the accuracy of the machines.

In the 1960s, Swiss engineer Dr. Karl-Heinz Steiger brought the concept of numerical control (NC) to Sinker EDM machines, allowing for greater automation and precision. The 1980s saw the introduction of computer numerical control (CNC), enabling operators to program complex machining operations for increased productivity and efficiency.

Today, Sinker EDM machines are indispensable in many industries, including aerospace, automotive, and medical. They're used for various applications, from mold making to tool and die manufacturing, and precision machining. At SST Consumables, we offer a comprehensive range of Sinker EDM consumables and supplies to keep these machines running at their best.

How Do Sinker EDM Machines Work?

Understanding the basic principles of Sinker EDM is crucial for anyone working in machining and fabrication. These machines use electrical discharge to remove material from a workpiece. This process involves creating controlled spark discharges between an electrode and the workpiece, which erode the material and shape it according to the desired specifications.

The electrical discharge occurs in a dielectric medium, typically a non-conductive liquid such as oil or deionized water. For Die-Sinker machines, the dielectric of choice is oil. This medium acts as an insulator and helps to control the spark discharges. The discharge energy causes the medium to vaporize, forming a plasma channel that the electrical current passes through.

The material removal in Sinker EDM primarily happens through thermal erosion. The intense heat generated by the electrical discharge melts and vaporizes the workpiece material, which is then flushed away by the dielectric medium. This allows for precise shaping and intricate detailing of the workpiece.

Sinker EDM machines consist of several key components that enable effective execution of the electrical discharge machining process. These include the power supply, electrode holder, worktable, dielectric system, and control unit. The power supply generates the electrical pulses required for the spark discharges, while the electrode holder keeps the electrode in position. The worktable provides the necessary support for the workpiece, and the dielectric system ensures a constant flow of dielectric fluid. The control unit regulates the machining parameters and coordinates the movements of the machine.

Applications and Advancements in Sinker EDM Technology

Sinker EDM technology has found widespread use in various industries due to its precision and versatility. Industries like aerospace, automotive, medical device manufacturing, and tool and die production all rely on these machines. Sinker EDM allows for the creation of intricate shapes in turbine blades and other critical components in the aerospace industry. The automotive industry uses it for manufacturing molds, dies, and precision parts. Medical device manufacturers use this technology to produce surgical instruments and implants with high precision and accuracy.

The advantages of Sinker EDM in precision machining are numerous. It allows for the production of highly intricate parts with tight tolerances, and can work with a wide range of conductive materials, including hardened steels and exotic alloys. Sinker EDM enables the creation of fine details, sharp corners, and small holes that are otherwise challenging to achieve with traditional machining methods. Moreover, it eliminates the need for extensive post-machining processes, reducing overall production time and costs.

Recent advancements have further enhanced the capabilities of Sinker EDM machines. Advanced control systems and software enable higher cutting speeds, improved surface finishes, and increased accuracy. Automatic electrode changers and tooling systems enhance productivity by reducing setup time and allowing for uninterrupted machining. Integrated CAD/CAM systems streamline the design and manufacturing process, ensuring efficient and precise machining.